Power2Indies Big Book Bash – You’re ALL Invited!

Check this Out!

Jo Robinson

The schedules are starting to go out for this year’s Power2Indies Big Book Bash event on Facebook beginning 17th October. I was a bit late last year (ahem) and only managed to book one slot, but if you get moving now you can book two one hour slots on the event, where you get to take over and chat about yourself and your work to all those attending. This event is open to ALL – bloggers – authors – illustrators – publishers, and of course – readers. It was great last year and I gave away piles of freebies and sold a couple of discounted books too. Also a huge amount of fun chatting away to strangers all about what I do – wonderful!

So EVERYONE is invited! Check out Fraser’s blog post Power2Indies Big Book Bash for more info, join the event Power2Indies Big Book Bash Facebook Event and…

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Gardner’s On Becoming a Novelist: Some Advice


About a week ago I came across a post by Damyanti about Tim Tomlinson and his novel, the Portable MFA. (Read it here.) What interested me at the time was that Damyanti had said that that book had given her the confidence to write. And having read the introduction, The MFA vs. the Portable MFA, I can see why shelling out less than one hundred dollars would be better than paying between $35,000 – $50,000 to get an MFA degree. Believe me I’ve tried. I was told not enough publications to my credit, so I continue to write. Anyway, after reading her post, I checked through my stack, realized that I had a copy, but as yet hadn’t given it a read – so many books, so little time. Now though, having read the first chapter on Fiction, I can see that it is indeed valuable and that led me digging through the stack to see what other books I might also have overlooked.


on becoming a novelist
Which led me back to On Becoming a Novelist, a book by John Gardner. I had read it a few months ago, but during a lull in the writing I am finding it helpful. Consider it suggestions to a developing writer. Below I offer you six pieces of advice or things to consider as you write your novel. If you possess a copy, go through it again. See if you find anything hauntingly helpful, like the list below.



Six things to consider if you want to write:


John Gardner

1. What counts is the character’s story and the first quality of good storytelling is storytelling.
2. The young writer should read to see how effects are achieved, how things are done, sometimes reflecting on what he would have done in the same situation and on whether his way would have been better or worse, and why?

3. The wise or more experienced writer gives the reader the information he needs to understand the story movement by movement.

4. Good fiction affirms responsible humanness.

5. Maintain a vivid, continuous dream. (i.e. tell the story without butting in, like I’m doing here by adding this bit.)

6. Look inward for approval and support. Have the endurance and pace of a marathon runner. (Here I think of Haruki Murakami) Be driven and directed by an inner force.

Thanks again for your post, Damyanti. Read it above and catch you all next week!

Create Suspense: Always Leave The Reader…Wanting More

Clarice-Starling-and-Jack-CrawfordNo matter what genre you choose to write in, it would be wise to leave the reader wanting more. Don’t believe me, thumb through the first few pages of the latest thriller, mystery, or romance novel in your collection and answer one question: Does the writer leave you wanting more? If so, then maybe they have started to reward you for making the choice to purchase their stories. But if not, then something in their skills may be sorely lacking….

Hopefully not. Anyway, creating suspense is a useful technique no matter your genre. Something according to Donald Maass (in his novel, Fire in Fiction) must always be kept taut. According to Maass, “Micro-tension is the secret behind page-turning fiction,” pg 97. Another thing he hints at, is the fault of beginning writers, to create tension at the start of a chapter, only to release it a few pages down. A let down to any reader, who is looking for something to span out over time. Something that builds slowly and then releases. One way to do this according to Maass, is to not start the next chapter with the scene or episode that the reader is most likely waiting for.

Think of the movie, Psycho, with its discordant music, and the woman bathing as the killer pulls a knife. Or The Silence of the Lambs with Clarice Starling, training at the Academy only to be called in on a case and then told to go see Dr. Lector. Wait. Were you expecting Buffalo Bill? Watch it again, see if any of the scenes go where you expected them to, and then postulate why or why not. No matter what you are writing, there are always tips and tricks…use the ones that work for you…and dump the others.


Because readers, like those cinema patrons want to be on the edge of their seats…waiting for that shock. They want to know what will happen next…and now and then it is good to keep them waiting…reading.

Give them clues if you have to, but leave them to mull it over for themselves. Eventually they will come around, and they will love you for it…I know I do. Anyway, remember a scene is written one word at a time, so take out anything that might be skipped…and include everything that is pertinent.

Once again, thanks for reading, and have a great week! Sorry for the delay in post, but I spent the last week recuperating from a very bad cold. Hope you’re all well though and wishing you all the best!

Book Marketing and Promotion Part II of II

Something we all should know a little bit about. Do check out the two parts!

Christine F. Anderson Publishing & Media

From the Editor’s Desk
By:  Dr. Andree Robinson-Neal
Last time we looked at examples of the cost of book marketing and promotion; if you recall, the post ended with a comment about the fact that you, the writer, have an obligation to work at marketing and promoting your book.
Your publisher’s job is to help you develop a product and work with you as you determine the audience for it.
Contrary to seemingly popular belief, publishers do not have a magic wand that allows them to connect your book to your audience; no one knows your book as well as you do and as such, no one knows your audience as well either.
What does it mean for you as the author? Charles E. Yallowitz is an extraordinary writer. While Charles self-publishes, his points below still apply and he was kind enough to share some thoughts on marketing with us:

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Become Your Character

acting 5

You know, I’ve always wanted to be an actress. Well, at least when I was younger. I even joined the drama club in Secondary School (Junior High) and managed to get a few small parts, before stopping completely because of exams.

acting 4
Once or twice I can even remember getting butterflies in the pit of my stomach, and experiencing stage fright. But thankfully I have learnt how to deal with them, because even now it rears its ugly head just to show me who’s the boss. Each time though, I take it in stride, always making a decision to do what I am supposed to do. Read a piece of poetry or give a speech.

But before all of that, there was always writing. Something for which I didn’t need to learn any more lines, because I would be the one creating them. The one assuming the role of that said character, or the entire cast, depending on what the story needed. Busy learning how to come up with appropriate lines for entirely different situations, which (as I am sure all of know) is more than nice.

stephen king     Believe me, writing is amazing. So, when I read that piece of advice posted above – become your character at least when you write from the novel on writing, Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint (by Nancy Kress), I thought I’d share it with you. Because our readers cannot go into our heads, to learn everything we know about our characters. Instead, we have to get everything down on the page, leaving only the salient bits that are relevant (for whatever part of the story they are at).

Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint

And what better way to do that than by crawling into our character’s (/ characters’) skin. Especially when writing, so we can create an accurate picture. Get everything that’s pertinent. Then, when we’re done, we can slip back out, and assess what we’ve done. Both as a writer, but also preferably as a reader, to ensure that everything’s just alright.

Like always, keep writing and all the best!

Who Do You Write For?

the audience

Yourself? Or an imagined reader? I’d like to tell you that in some instances it doesn’t matter, as long as you write. But sometimes, having an idea of your audience (one particular person or group of people) can be the difference between communicating effectively or producing something that may seem partly mangled.

Truthfully, when I wrote The Way of the Seer and uploaded it here, I did it because it was the type of story I wanted to read. Maybe in writing, some of you may have had similar experiences and as such feel compelled to do what you do. Either way I applaud you.

Right now though, I often catch myself thinking intermittently about my reader. But not in the usual way, of who they are. Instead, I wonder how I can make their reading experience better. How to leave them with some scene or image that they would think of as a reward for having read, or bought the piece.

Yet, no matter how you approach the issue of who your audience is, remember to keep up with your writing. Get the first draft done, before you consider editing because if you don’t you may get stuck.

Remember also that some people will get your story or poem or play, while others may not. Either way, don’t feel discouraged. Instead, write the best copy you can. Right now! Then when it’s finished send it out. Remember this because it is the most important part of the process.

And whether or not you write with the reader in mind, do write! And enjoy the rest of your week!

PLAY : The Art of Replenishing the Well

having fun

When was the last time you took a walk in the park? Or engaged in a game of charades? For me, it’s been a while, although in the last few weeks my niece has challenged me to more than a few games of ludo and scrabble. She though gets really angry about losing, developing dead-pan features, along with a quick and steady hand. Something I’ve often shaken my head at, because as a darts who gets serious coming down to end, and then losses because of overconfidence, I’ve learned to shrug it off. To try to maintain my cool and learn to take things light. Not that it works all the time, but then practice makes perfect. Has any of this ever happened to you? When was the last time you played? Allowing yourself an opportunity to win, lose or draw.

Now, take a moment. Think about this, it’s the bottom of the ninth inning, the bases are loaded and a different pitcher is called to the mound, while you are standing near home plate. Are you going to take up the bat and swing, aiming for the stars? Or are you going to shake your head doubtfully and say, pass?


David Guterson

What I’m trying to say, I guess, is that writing takes time. And even though being creative can sap your energy and sometimes leave you feeling drained, going out and doing something fun every now and then will help you to replenish lost energy. You will also be able to collect new ideas for stories, characters or maybe even just clear your head. After all as you’re building your lexicon for your stories, why not just throw in one more word that was useful during childhood… besides which, you’re never too old to have some fun!

Replenish the well! Enjoy the rest of your day!

Show Your Work!

show your work    show your work 2


A fan of Austin Kleon work (Show Your Work & Steal Like an Artist) because they always appear at the right time, with pertinent advice, I am daring myself to go one step further and share some poetry in this space that I have already chosen to use mostly for writing about fiction. Hopefully, you will forgive me if I have overstepped my bounds, but I believe, as writers, we should be open to tackling other types of writing. It is because of this that I am putting this out there to share with you.

Truth be told, I fell into reading ghazal’s because I went to a writer’s conference (Bocas Lit Fest) which featured the work of Shara McCallum, a Jamaican born poet who lives in the U.S. At the event she read a few pieces from This Strange Land, including a ghazal. Besides this, I have also read poems by Agha Shahid Ali from his book of poems called, The Country Without a Post Office. He too has quite a few ghazals and both books are fascinating. (And for anyone who isn’t in the know: A ghazal in Middle Eastern and Indian literature and music is a lyric poem with a fixed number of verses and a repeated rhyme, typically on the theme of love, and normally set to music.)


aliphoto      The-Country-Without-a-Post-Office-9780393317619

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the poem and as always, thanks for reading!



How do we arrive into the future?
Is duty our burden? Or is it honor?

O Father, every day you moan, belaboring my profession.
But how can I watch things, and not express doubt?

When Shahid wrote to the world:
Hope extinguished, now nothing else remains.

Our nation too is being torn asunder.
As unrest rolls in on the clouds.

Yet there is no great leader.
No one capable of filling those shoes.

So, every day I listen for the news.
Hoping a caucasus will create change.

Then they ask, “What does Melissa mean?”
Honey bee, I say, in Greek.